The role of non-English-language science in biodiversity assessments

11 May 2023

International biodiversity assessments may be overlooking important locally and regionally relevant scientific information on biodiversity conservation.

A global study coauthored by The Biodiversity Consultancy’s Graham Prescott and published in Nature Sustainability presents new evidence about the role non-English-language science plays in national biodiversity assessments.

A survey of 37 countries where English is not an official language found that 65% of the references cited in national biodiversity reports were in non-English-languages, but that non-English-language literature represents just 3.4% of the references cited in Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) reports. This means that international assessments like those by the IPBES may be overlooking important locally and regionally relevant evidence.

In addition, a quarter of report authors acknowledged the struggles of understanding English-language literature, suggesting this may impede the uptake of scientific evidence in decision making in those countries where English is not widely spoken. The findings point to the need to aid the use of English-language literature in domestic decision-making, for example by providing non-English-language abstracts or improving and/or implementing machine translation.  

Categories: Publications, Biodiversity Strategy

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